|Testing your responses.|
I had a new job. The trouble was that I had no idea of what it actually was. I think it was a big warehouse or something with a lot of office space up in the front two floors of the building, all kinds of people coming and going.
Everyone in the place was ignorant, or threatening or abusive. Either that, or they ignored me, just rolling their eyes when I tried to talk to them. They were all nuts. Nothing they said made any sense, and I had no idea of why I was there—I hadn’t worked in years and I sure as hell wasn’t looking for a job, not that I recall. You’d think that I would remember something like that.
Finally, when I just couldn’t take it anymore, I turned to the nearest guy and let him have a big one right in the kisser. My arm went out to its fullest extension and I caught him on the side of the face, slightly high so I wouldn’t bust his jaw.
He went down.
I was confronted by a sloping concrete wall, and I was standing in a foot of water. I wanted out of there real bad so I dropped to my knees and began clawing at the mud and gravel where the slot allowed the dirty coffee-coloured water to flow under and out of the tunnel.
The gap was too shallow. The slot was too small for my body to squeeze through, and there was just a thin slice of air above it. If I could lower the water level, maybe I could slither through on my back. There was light out there. It would take a while, and turning, I saw to my relief a square patch of sunny glare only fifteen metres behind me.
I was in a culvert or something under a road. That must be it.
Sloshing my way to the daylight, the sides of a ditch or drainage canal sloped up, all covered in thick green grass, curling and uneven. The sky was blue, with thin high clouds. The sides of the ditch were ten or twelve feet high. The sides must have been seventy-five degrees. Cold water flowed past my feet as I tried to kick or cut a foothold. Grabbing grass, I pulled myself up, attempting to plunge my fingers into the soil, but it was harder and drier than I thought. It took a couple of attempts, but I made it up, kicking and clawing all the way…
My little red sports-car handled fine. It was a lovely summer’s evening about seven o’clock. Dodging oncoming traffic, I pulled off the left side of the road into a field, with a big down-slope and trees coming up fast. I picked a thin spot and discovered it was a narrow lane through the trees, although I had to steer right and left to avoid the bigger ones. The grass was very green. The ground was smooth, or at this speed I would have been bounced right out.
I got to the bottom and the other side began curving up, but I turned left and over in a big arc and then followed the valley up a hillside and over the top, to a wide, open street where I bounced down over a curb. I turned left again, went about two blocks and pulled right into the driveway of a French Colonial house, a monster of a home. The garage door opened so I put the car in there.
I walked through the place, it was very quiet in there, and it had a couch and a few items of furniture. There no curtains on the windows and light streamed in. All the windows were closed. There was a bedroom, and there were empty rooms but someone had been using the kitchen recently. There was cold coffee in a pot and a little food in the fridge. I saw one or two dishes in a rack. I was standing in the end of the kitchen when car doors slammed and some people came in. One guy in an expensive charcoal grey suit came in, and walked right past me. There were voices in the house, but I didn’t see where they went. He went into the other room.
He sat in a chair in the living room and opened up a newspaper as I came in.
He glanced up, and went to the next page, but then he ignored me and I wondered if he belonged there. It could have been my house.
Something wasn’t right here.
There was a funny pricking pain at my left temple. I felt thin wires on my neck, hard, like bell wire going down to somewhere else, and on the side of my head a round pad of something shiny…like plastic.
Jerking against some kind of restraints, I looked wildly around. I wanted so badly to sit up.
We sat in an office, with me in a dentist’s chair. I was wired for sound, wrists strapped to the arms of the chair.
“Congratulations. You’ve got the job.”
“Only eleven seconds to pull yourself back to reality. That’s very impressive.”
“What? Who the hell are you?”
“Welcome to the firm.”
He came over and began unsnapping buckles.
“What’s this all about?”
“It’s okay. You passed the test with flying colours.”
All of this was a just little too surreal to me.
“Screw you. I don’t want the job.”
He threw his head back and laughed.
“Don’t worry. You’ll fit right in around here.”
And it was true, too.
I’ve been working here for, ah, I don’t know, about twenty-nine years now, and I just love every minute of it.
Author's Note: Presently, employers can check out prospective employees on Facebook and Twitter, use photo-search to find their faces on other sites, and check them out in any number of ways. Bearing in mind there will be far fewer 'good' jobs in the future, they can afford to pick and choose. Also, with the market so tight, people will submit willingly to almost any indignity and give up almost any and all privacy in order to get one of those coveted jobs. People have always given up freedom for bread, a sad truth but a truth nevertheless.
In this case, the subject signed a waiver and certain portions of his memories and even his personality have been carefully wiped.
On the other hand, he gets a whopping $11.00 an hour and some small benefits from his employer, including an annual picnic in a local park and a gaily-striped unform with his name on it which he wears as he flips burgers.
At the company picnic, he even gets to watch junior executives with professional amusement as they struggle to cook a burder for him once in awhile.
Remember, you learned it here first.